Manaia – A Peek Down Below

MANAIA – A Peek Down Below

Manaia has made several appearance on WW, link below the backgrounds her early days . She was designed by Alex Collings and built in 1965 by Percy Vos. Now thanks to a nudge from Alan Sexton and tme – we get to see the results of some of the recent work on her. She is looking very smart for an ex Harbour Board Pilot boat 🙂

Currently offered for sale but you’ll need a 25m marina. Contact

Previous WW story link below

Manaia – Launch Day + Volvo Race Start






MANAIA – Launch Day

The above photos of Manaia were sent to me by Paul Drake – I’ll let Paul tell the story behind them.

“The first four I took on launching day. I was 15 and in the midst of School Certificate. No exam that day, so off I went on my bike from home in Balmoral, camera in my bag. 

In the second pic, Capt. Warwick Dunsford can be seen in charge on the foredeck (white boiler suit and black beret). 

In the third pic, Percy Vos himself is clearly recognizable just by the fore foot. 

The last two photos I have had since the 1960’s & most likely come from the camera of TW Collins. Great photos, especially the one from the port quarter, and show MANAIA at work.

MANAIA is certainly very original, but note that the stem now has an unattractive (to me) hook near the top. Much better straight in my view.  Also note unusual chine aft. Double ender but hard chine aft. That’s why she can do 15 knots if required!

MANAIA was about the last of the large wooden pilot vessels built for New Zealand ports. About the same time as AKARANA and 10 years after TIAKINA (Wellington – and also a Collings design). TIAKINA of course built in England and steamed out via Suez Canal.”

You can see photos of Manaia today, looking very smart & read extensive details on her past here


Volvo Round-the-World Yacht Race -Auckland Start








Photos Below In The Order They Passed North Head








And a couple of Woodys amongst the sea of plastic boats


Peter Boardman – Lady Margaret


Angus Rogers – Mahanui






I was recently contacted by Adam Leyden who approx. 4 months ago purchased the ex Northland Harbour Board Pilot launch Manaia & is looking for any info the woodys may be able to provide on her past. Adam commented that there is a huge amount of history onboard the vessel e.g. log books etc. even a weekly stock take of the onboard bar from when she was a working boat, those boys knew how to party! What Adam would really like is some older photos and details of her many (10+ I believe) trips up to the Pacific Islands. 

Adam purchased Manaia out of Picton & has returned her to her home port of Marsden Point & is in the early stages of planing her restoration. Structurally, she is still in fantastic condition, as is the machinery, drive lines, steering gear etc. Cosmetically she has been let go a little and the priority is to get the decks resealed and re varnish (Uroxsys) the teak wheel house and main cabin. Below is some background that Adam supplied.

She is an A.J Collings design, built in Auckland by P. Vos and launched November 1963. She was built as a pilot boat for the then Northland Harbour Board. Although she was built as a work boat, the spec and fit-out was more at the super yacht end of the scale, launched with a bar, game chairs etc. she had a bit of a reputation as a party boat back then too! She was with the Harbour Board from 1963 to around 1990 and has spent much of her life in Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds since then. She has completed seven trips to Noumea as a support vessel for the Whangarei – Noumea yacht races, the first in 1967 and the last in 1984. Looking through the log books still onboard, she has been on several other adventures through the Pacific too.  

Her hull, machinery, drive lines, steering gear etc. are all in great condition still, probably because of the quality of materials and gear used when she was constructed. Sadly she has not had a lot of maintenance or use over the last ten odd years and there is a bit of cosmetic stuff to get on top of, fortunately she is still quite original and a chainsaw won’t be necessary to get her looking good again. The two 16L straight 8 Rolls Royce diesels performed flawlessly on our trip from Picton to Marsden Point and were surprisingly economical, we averaged 3.9L per NM at 10.5kns on the trip. She cruises at 10 knots happily doing 1800rpm. We did get a touch over 15knots out of her on a short burst, however that destroyed the fuel consumption and the wake was huge!

It would be great to find some photos of her back in her working days when her hull was painted royal blue! It would also be great to hear from anyone who has spent time aboard her or been off shore on her.”

The two below photos are from the beginning and end of her trip from Picton to Marsden Cove Marina



30-01-2018 Input from Richard Morgan

Manaia was certainly a striking vessel when painted navy blue and looked more like an Admiral’s Barge, or a Royal Barge than a Harbour Board work-boat. I presume she was built at the order of the late Ralph Trimmer, Chairman of the Northland Harbour Board, a prominent local lawyer, and strong advocate for Whangarei and its port. Without Ralph Trimmer the refinery would probably have been located at Picton or somewhere. Built ostensibly as a working vessel Manaia was at the same time a pilot launch, a floating board room, a pleasure boat, and a nautical sales office and tourist ship for visiting dignitaries. VIPs entertained on board would have been from other Port Authorities, shipping companies, oil company executives, and representatives from many organisations and governments that the Port Company wanted to influence. As noted, the “Grog Cabinet’ was legendary and we can be sure many well-lubricated lobbying sessions and deal-signing sessions were held on board. RK Trimmer was later prosecuted for various financial mis-managements, but no Whangarei resident felt he was guilty of these as the city and port had benefitted more under his leadership than from any council or board before or since.

In a discussion I had with the late Capt. Peter Wavish, a former Pilot and Harbourmaster for Northland Port, we discussed Manaia, and if I remember correctly, he said she was a beautiful ship, but rolled like a drunken sailor in sea-boots! So those trips into the Pacific Ocean must have been an experience never to forget for those with a land-lubber’s tummy.

Mahaki – Sailing Sunday

MAHAKI – Sailing Sunday
photos & details ex Angus Rogers

Angus Rogers has sent in the above photos of the yacht Mahaki, owned by his grandfather Lionel B Rogers with EJ Jamieson and JF Harrison in Wellington and the photos were taken about 1909. Angus knows nothing about the design but is a fan of her clipper bow.

Sadly Mahaki was wrecked on the Wairarapa coast a year or so later on a trip which Angus’s grandfather wanted to go on but could not because he was made by his mother to go to a funeral of an aunt. It was fortunate that he didn’t because all lives on board were lost with the boat.
Note: the information about the name, owners and locations are from writing on the backs of the photos

Can we shed some more light on Mahaki in terms of designer / builder & other owners?

Positive News On The Historic Vos Boat Yard – view video footage of CYA member Baden Pascoe talking about the Vos yard & the funding announcement.

Photos from the Round The Island race during the British Classic Week

Harold Kidd Input

This Wellington MAHAKI was designed and built by J.T. Pratt in late 1895 for himself. The design may well have come from an overseas design, possibly in one of Dixon Kemp’s books, as did many other at the time. She was quite small, rating 1.6 or 1.7. Pratt sold her Wiggins and Hannah about 1899 and subsequent owners were Anderson & Co (1902) then the Jamieson syndicate (1906). Birch and Elliott appear to have owned her from 1907 but may just be members of the Jamieson syndicate. When her owners “went to the Front” in WW1 she was hauled up at Balaena Bay and deteriorated. She was broken up for her lead there in late 1917. Several other yachts were scrapped at the same time including MAY.
I think the tale of the wreck on the Wairarapa coast is a conflation with the wreck of a similar yacht around the same time, one of many Wellington yachts that left their bones in and around Palliser Bay.

PS thinking about the wreck, supposedly of MAHAKI, I reckon the story of the loss of the 24ft keel yacht TE AROHA has got mixed up with the legend. TE AROHA was built in late 1899 by R.G. Millman and foundered on January 2nd 1905 at Wellington Heads after returning from the Sounds. All three on board lost their lives. Maybe Lionel Rogers was meant to sail on TE AROHA?